This weekend I am attending a Progressive Christian seminar at Merthyr Road Uniting Church (Brisbane, Australia). The seminar titled “Christianity: 1st Century, Now, In the Future”, is examining evolving Christianity perspectives through the ages. The key speakers are Hal Taussig and Michael Morwood.
Hal Taussig has worked as a Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Union Theological Seminary (New York) for 17 years. As an expert on ancient Christian writings he is the author of A New New Testament, which combines the 27 canonical books of the New Testament with 10 newly discovered texts, also from early Christian writers.
Michael Morwood has 40 years experience in ministry, retreats and education. Today he enjoys challenging people to examine what they believe and why. Bringing together the wonders of science, the universe and the divine.
Hal and Michael alternate throughout the day. Each presenting their areas of expertise, both inviting us to consider our own perspectives and other perspectives through the ages.
With a lens of humility, they each acknowledge their traditional Christian background and the mistakes they’ve made along the way (and are likely still making!). It’s reassuring to know that we are all on a journey of discovery. Someday it is likely we will all look back on our beliefs (individually and as a society) and be amazed at how outdated we were.
This idea of an evolving Christianity resonates throughout the day’s presentations and discussions.
Evolving Christianity: the need for a new New Testament
The day begins with Hal presenting the basis for his book A New New Testament. Few Christians understand the origins of the Bible, but even fewer know there is a wealth of new, early Christian writings being discovered every day. I certainly didn’t!
Hal explains that there have been more early Christian writings discovered in the last 150 years than what we have had available for the last 1500 years. The resources we have at our fingertips has more than doubled.
And yet, the concept of an infallible, perfectly complete Bible is so ingrained in traditional Christian thinking that most Christians and Christian leaders will at best: find these new discoveries mildly interesting though not significant, and at worst: dismiss their veracity and relevance entirely.
It’s crazy to think that we have more information than ever and yet the rigidness of traditional beliefs holds us back from making new meaning.
I was struck by the thought that it had never occurred to me before that the Bible should evolve. Even as a Progressive Christian, I had not considered that we should add to it. This is however, exactly what Hal has done.